The first time I heard about my classmates engaging with social media was in fourth grade. A few of my friends and some of my classmates had excitedly jumped onto platforms like Instagram at such a young age. On the other hand, I hesitated. At that age, I did not have a comprehensive idea of what social media was. I only knew the basics, but was foreign to words like "DM" and "tagged."
All throughout middle school, I stuck with the same mindset. And now, as a freshman in high school, I am looking back and wondering why I have never been inherently interested in social media. Here's what I have realized:
I Rather Socialize With Friends In-Person
I completely understand the benefits of using social media. The one that I tend to hear the most is having constant communication with friends and family. While social media does allow for this, I have always turned to texting, calling, and video calling to contact those close to me who I do not have the luxury of seeing in person.
The idea of meeting with friends in person seems much more rewarding and enjoyable than casually commenting on and liking a friend's post or using the "DM" function on Instagram to talk with them.
I Never Have Had The Desire To Display My Life To Others
Scrolling through Instagram, you're ought to find dozens of pictures of people in beautiful countries, taking part in exciting activities, and spending time with friends and family, among many other things. The thought of doing this never resonated well with me. I respect and understand those who do believe using social media allows them to express themselves and share aspects of their lives with others. However, I have never had any interest in doing the same. In my eyes, family gatherings and friend get-togethers are just as, if not more meaningful when not shared with others.
I Knew Social Media Would Change The Way I Look At Myself
Most people have experienced feeling insecure and unconfident on social media. Images that are altered portray unrealistic beauty standards that can only be obtained through detrimental, dangerous ways. Even without using social media, I knew that using apps like Instagram and Facebook would make me not only self-conscious, but embarrassed of all the aspects that make me a unique individual. I never wanted to look at a post on social media and immediately compare myself and my life.
Social media felt like a trap; once I get sucked in, it is difficult to get out. I wanted to avoid this trap at all costs.
I Didn't Want To Waste My Valuable Time
I constantly observe my classmates getting easily distracted by social media. While trying to complete their homework, they have an overwhelming urge to open up Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, or Snapchat to see if there are any new notifications. At some point, checking social media becomes a habit; a part of your routine.
With homework and extracurricular activities consuming the majority of my day, I cannot wait to finish every task on my to-do list, so I can finally spend time with my family or have some time for myself to relax and de-stress from my hectic day. Spending time with those closest to me and prioritizing my well-being has always been my priority.
Social media threatened this habit.
I Never Wanted Likes To Define Me
You have just posted a picture of you posing at the beach. In the image, you are smiling, running your hands through your hair, and turning towards the stunning sunset behind you. Impatiently, you wait for the first like.
Thirty seconds go by.
Your friend from school likes the image.
Within five minutes, the image has six likes.
"I'll get more soon. I just posted the picture a few minutes ago," you tell yourself.
Once you get home from soccer practice, shower, and eat dinner, you immediately open up Instagram and check to see how many likes your latest post got.
When you read the number 24 next to the words "liked by," unhappiness and frustration take over you. You wish you had gotten more likes.
"Do people not like me? Why did I only get 24 likes? Am I not pretty enough?"
Even from a young age, I knew that using social media would make me measure my self-worth and happiness by the number of likes and engagement a post receives. To me, this felt inevitable.
Do I Ever Think About Using Social Media?
The answer is yes. At times, I catch myself thinking about downloading Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, or TikTok. The sudden urge to participate in social media is usually due to feeling excluded, as most of my friends and classmates use social media constantly. But, I am quick to remind myself that not having social media is the best choice for me. And, in the future, if I desperately want to use social media, I will, unquestionably, do so. However, until then, I will be proud of the decision I have made for myself.
In the end, I have chosen myself over an arbitrary number of likes.